Day by Day

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Another item checked off, and the fuss about SUV's.

Took a PT test for the Army today and passed it. That was the last hurdle towards getting my AGR packet in, so I feel pretty damn good right now. I was worried about the run, since I'm still fighting this damn cold, but I managed to eke it out. Increased my push-ups and sit-ups from the last drill as well. All in all, not a bad day.

Now then.... Check this out. Lee at South Carolina Confidential wrote a post about SUVs. Rob Smith at Gut Rumbles read the post and responded, albeit in his rather brusque fashion. Now, I like both guys, and I can see both points of view, but I think they both missed the main reason of why so many SUVs are on the road.

First of all, let's look at Lee's take on it, shall we? Just to give you a brief snippet, he objects not to many of the vehicles themselves, but the people driving them.

I don't know how many times I have been behind one of these monsters, watched them slow down to a crawl and climb gingerly over a speed bump. Oopsie...daisey. Good freaking GOD. Yet these same folks will zoom down a snow-covered road like they are trying to qualify at Taledaga. They got four wheel drive and, by god, now's the time to flaunt it.
I am the proud owner of a Jeep CJ5. I like four-wheel drive vehicles.
What I don't like is status-seeking poseurs.

Now, as the proud rider of a motorcycle, I can say that I have experienced more ass-hatted idiots, morons, incompetent fuckwads, dipshits, worthless goat-fucking retards, and all around gawd-awful drivers in SUV's than in anything else. Even the penis-compensating BMW drivers don't match up with the idiots behind the wheel of a four-wheel drive Battlestar Galactica. These people are brain dead and not afraid to show it while they're driving. The only person who ever made me flip up my visor and scream "YOU NEED TO BE PUT UP AGAINST A WALL AND SHOT, YOU NON-DRIVING FUCK!" was driving a big white Ford Excursion, with which they forced me out of my lane and into oncoming traffic to avoid being run over. So when Lee goes off on Status-seeking poseurs, I feel his pain. For all the eco-freaks and liberals running around Seattle, I have never seen more SUV's, massive trucks, and tanks with wheels in my life. I guess they need a lot of room to put their "No War For Oil" signs in when they're done protesting. They buy the biggest damn truck they can and then go from home to work, from work to home, wash it twice in either direction, and then drive like their heads were cut off and shoved up their ass before they started the engine.

However, Rob (and his merry band of commenters) also have a point that these people have a right to buy these vehicles. This is America, dammit, and if I want to buy the biggest damn tank on wheels possible I have the freedom to do so. I think Rob missed the real point, which was that the PEOPLE driving these vehicles, not the vehicles themselves, are what set Lee off.

But would anyone like to take a guess at why there are so many damn SUVs on the road in the first place? Anyone? Anyone? Put your hand down Drum, you already know everything.

In 1975, the government put into place these little things called CAFE standards. Corporate Average Fuel Economy. In short, the government told car manufacturers that they could only sell cars and light trucks that get a certain number of miles per gallon. These standards effect cars and light trucks.

The problem with CAFE standards is that there is only so much you get out of an engine that's sipping gas. In order to reduce emissions and make cars more fuel efficient, car makers had to make the cars lighter. When's the last time you saw a standard car with metal bumpers? My dad's old truck had them. My mom's old vehicle had them. But try and find metal bumpers these days? Ain't gonna happen. It's all plastic 5MPH bumpers.

In addition to all of this, car makers had to make their engines and transmissions more complex. Where my dad and I could literally sit in the engine compartment of his old truck and work on anything we saw, newer cars are a mess of wires, vacuum hoses, computerized components, and more technical gadgetry than Issac Azimov could ever dream about.

That stuff costs money, folks. From the design on down, you need more moolah.

That means unless you want to drive a powered roller skate with a plastic shell, you're going to paying out huge amounts of cash just to get a full-sized sedan. Notice that most car makers are out of the full-sized market, or at least far far below where they were a decade ago.

Now, imagine that you're Mr. Joe Snuffy, an average American who needs a new vehicle. You've got Mrs. Snuffy to think about, plus the little Snuffys and maybe a dog or two. You go to a car lot to see what you can find. All you know is that you need cargo space and safety.

Well, you can buy a full-sized sedan for about $25,000, or for a few grand more, you can get the biggest damn behemoth you've ever seen. It seats eight comfortably, has a fold-out charcoal grill and smoker in the back, hauls two tons and has four wheel drive.

Just what in the hell is Mr. Snuffy going to do? Drive home a sedan that MIGHT fit his entire family, or for about the same price drive home an SUV that'll fit his family, his neighbor's family, and tow a boat for them all to go to the lake with?

It's all a matter of government interference and economics, folks. Due to government meddling, most car makers won't build full sized sedans, which used to be the family car of choice. Too expensive. Too much hassle, and to top it off when the final price is calculated it's almost the same as an SUV. It's either minivans or SUV's sitting on a car lot, because America has spoken, and what we said was "I don't want to pay that much for a car, but I will pay that same amount for an SUV."

Granted, if people would learn how to drive that would be nice, but putting them in a small car won't make them better drivers. It might, however, get them to kill themselves off before they get an SUV, so that might be a better choice. However, don't blame people for buying SUV's, blame the government for taking choice away from the consumer. You can still blame them for being zombified fucknozzles behind the wheel.

By the way, I drive a light truck and my wife drives a 1986 Chevy Blazer. The early SUV. It was rather nice in Seattle, since the brain-dead fuckwads might try to injure her but they were never able to do so.

Oh, and Rob? Lighten up, bro. Lee's on our side.

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